AI Is Not the New Crypto
Category: Health, Science & TechnologyVia: hallux • last year • 2 comments
By: Isabel Fattal - The Atlantic
Recent breakthroughs in generative AI, such as the image generator DALL-E and the large language model ChatGPT, are “potentially akin to the release of the iPhone in 2007, or to the invention of the desktop computer,” Derek Thompson told me in December. Here are the latest AI developments to watch in the coming weeks and months.
Investors are pouring money into AI.
Last year, investors put at least $1.37 billion into generative-AI companies across 78 deals—almost as much as they invested in the previous five years combined, according to the market-data company Pitchbook .
Microsoft, in particular, has taken a big leap: Since 2019, the company has invested $3 billion in OpenAI, which designed DALL-E and ChatGPT, and it’s reportedly in talks to invest another $10 billion. Microsoft purchased an exclusive license to some of OpenAI’s technology, and it’s working with OpenAI on a new version of its search engine, Bing, that would incorporate a ChatGPT-like tool.
Schools are concerned about academic integrity.
How will these tools change our lives? As Derek told me recently: “We don’t know. The architects of those technologies barely know. But it’s so interesting to play with, and the technology is improving so quickly, that we should absolutely take it seriously, as if it’s something that can’t be avoided.”
Some universities are modifying their courses to minimize the risk of students handing in essays generated by an AI tool. And they’ll likely have to deal with even more capable tools soon—OpenAI reportedly plans to release GPT-4, which would be better than the current versions at generating text. Meanwhile, a 22-year-old computer-science student has built an app to identify whether a piece of text was written by a bot.
It may be time to worry about deepfakes—again .
You might remember that term from back in 2018, when media outlets and misinformation experts panicked about a rise of fake, realistic-looking videos. (In a famous example that BuzzFeed engineered, Barack Obama appeared to say “President Trump is a total and complete dipshit.”)
While that panic remained just that—a panic—advances in generative AI “have experts concerned that a deepfake apocalypse” is on the horizon, our assistant editor Matteo Wong reported last month. As AI-generated media get more advanced, these experts argue, in the next few years the internet will be flooded with forged videos and audio touting false information.
Tools such as ChatGPT might not be as smart as they seem …
Last week, the Atlantic writer Ian Bogost injected some skepticism into the debate over AI. “ChatGPT doesn’t actually know anything —instead, it outputs compositions that simulate knowledge through persuasive structure,” Bogost wrote . “As the novelty of that surprise wears off, it is becoming clear that ChatGPT is less a magical wish-granting machine than an interpretive sparring partner.” Could all this investment into the tech, he asks, be chasing after a bad idea?
But don’t expect the hype to evaporate anytime soon.
Some have asked whether we’re witnessing Crypto 2.0: A complex new technology captures media attention and investor money, only for some of the high-profile businesses built around it to spectacularly crash. But crypto is not a good model for thinking about artificial intelligence, Derek told me. “Crypto was money without utility,” he argued, while tools such as ChatGPT are, “for now, utility without money.” Generative AI is “clearly something, even if one wants to argue that the thing it is is, for now, a toy ,” he said.
Plus, AI has already succeeded in a way that crypto never did, Derek noted. Although you may hear some people use artificial intelligence as a catchall term, the technology that’s currently breaking ground is the generative kind—tools with the ability to create new content, such as text or images. We’ve all been living with artificial intelligence for years now. “Go on Instagram. Why are certain stories or posts above others? Because of AI,” Derek said. “You’re living in a world that AI built when you use the most famous social-media apps.”